Stu, Andy, Charlie and Pumpy of

Underclass UK


1. Underclass UK are knocking on many doors and banging hard with knuckles bloodied and spirits roused. Tell us about the bands journey thus far and how you find the scene and the struggle it is to get some recognition?

Andy: "The journey was by bus though I walked some of it. The long story is 30 years worth but the bunch you see on stage is a couple of years old. We're too old for recognition!  Same as the scene..."

Stu: "Well, despite it's roots being decades old, UCUK - as the solid unit you've seen - has only really been functioning for a couple of years. We've not struggled for gigs really. Maybe because we've all been about for a while and knew a few people? I think very low cost, and even free, music has helped us to get the name to a wider audience. But we do struggle to get people along to gigs. Especially IN London. Generally as people get older, they know what they like - and as they saying goes, they like what they know, so unless you can pitch yourself directly next to their favorite band/s, you're probably not going to get much of a look in. And even then getting them to come and watch you on a wet Sunday in South London ain't easy. So our only real chance of playing to a bigger audience comes as support to bigger, better known bands. But those slots are highly sought after. That said, I'm playing music because I like it. I'm actually happier in the rehearsal room. I don't really care about playing live. Can take it or leave it. Not drinking means hanging around pubs and is boring, and potentially dangerous for me. Recording is where my real loves lies. Am really looking forward to demoing the next set of songs...."

Charlie: "I think the band's journey has been varied; we've had some good gigs and received some positive audience reaction and also had some bad gigs where the sound was awful and where our set has had to be cut short due to other bands taking far too long to set up. I find the scene, on the whole, pretty acceptive and generally encouraging. Especially doing the T Chances and SLPC gigs. Also we get a good reaction to our music especially when we do out of London gigs. Getting recognition is always going to be problematic for any band doing originals. But we have the internet and the audience word of mouth ethos and also we have to do our part in engaging with the audience at all gigs (make them feel a part of what we are doing) and do more self promotion and networking.

2.  What divisions do you feel are within the scene and what are your thoughts on nostalgia, the obsession with watching the same old, same old and the shift towards a more festival slanted scene?

Stu: "On one hand I despise what punk has become, almost as sad as seeing a 40 year old Teddy Boy in the 80's, and about as relevant. On the other hand, I'm sometimes kind of guilty of that too. I've accepted that nostalgia and being 'Safe' is part of getting old. That doesn't necessarily mean I like it though. I did an interview with one of the classic 80's Oi! bands about 20 years back, and they said, "Can't be doing with all this misty eyed stuff". I thought it was harsh at the time, but I understand what they meant now. The holes in my life (and personality) which were filled by music as a youth, are now well and truly sanded down and no longer need plugging. Music, and punk specifically, doesn't mean what it did to me. I guess the 'phase' has gone now and I'm officially an old bastard. I still love being creative though, be it writing and playing songs, shooting and cutting videos, writing, etc, I just don't need a flag or a label to hide behind anymore."

Andy: "A lot of this so-called scene is made up of sad old cunts who look like they've rented a "punk" costume from the local fancy dress shop. It is tired."

Charlie: "I have no problem with nostalgia because if a large number of people start feeling nostalgic, they recreate a scene/movement (albeit underground) which, in it's own sense, is being somewhat kept alive. If by "the same old, same old" you mean older, earlier bands still gigging, then fair play to them. I personally want to be gigging in a band until I drop. If you mean all bands sounding similar, or the same then that's their look out and no one can tell anyone which or what style to play. If there is true passion there then so be it. With regards to playing festivals I am happy to play any gig as I just want to play. Although, I will admit that I love and prefer playing in small venues as you get to be close and intimate with your fellow band mates and with the audience. That's what I liked about venues such as "The Marquee, Wardour Street" (now closed. It was relocated to Charing X Road but was never the same),  "The Rock Garden, Covent Garden" (now closed. It is now...wait for it... the Apple Shop. Boooooooooooo),  "The Hope and Anchor, Islington" (lost it's credibility),  "The Swan, Camden" (now closed),  "The Half Moon, Putney" (now a gastro pub),  "The Bull and Gate, Kentish Town",  "The Dublin Castle, Camden",  "The Square, Harlow" (now closed),  "The Limelight, Crewe" (now closed),  etc etc. A part of me is concerned that if festivals start becoming even more popular and more people start going to them, this could mean fewer people going to see bands in smaller venues and thus resulting in these venues not being able to compete and subsequently closing down all together. This would not be good as far too many small venues and pubs are (being forced) closing down already. And then you get a situation where small, unknown, up and coming bands have nowhere to play and fall victim to a festival takeover. It's a bit like the now slow demise of the once local pub in favour of the new hipster, trendy type craft beer pub. I don't know. It's just an opinion centred around genuine concern.

3.  What one song encapsulates the feel of Underclass UK and how would describe the ethos of the band?

Charlie: "I would say listen to the albums and what we are saying then make your own mind up. We are a very hard working band. We enjoy rehearsing, playing together and gigging. This is evident in the fact that we will go and gig anywhere in the country (as has been proved with our track record) as well as Europe or anywhere else if need be. The most important thing is to have fun."

Andy: "A song called "How Many Times". A regular live song and one of Stu's favourites. Encapsulates everything in less than three minutes! To be honest, I only really know the words to my own songs - I'm just the guitar player! We're four different people with different outlooks - different enough to make it interesting without too much conflict, but we all give 100% and love what we do which is the only reason we do it. I'll let Stu pick the song." 

Stu: "Dunno. You seen us a couple of times and heard the records. You tell us! All I can say is there are a few songs which are effortless to play. 'Street Cleaner', 'I am Somebody', 'Under The Sun'... We can feel the natural energy on stage when we burst into some songs. Others take a bit more effort."

4.  Thruxton Spanner has turned a hump on his back into an amusement arcade where people under 1 foot tall are allowed to enter and play great old games such as 'Missile Command', 'Galaxian', 'Moon Cresta' and 'Shove a Bottle Up Erics Anus'.  The question is threefold -  A - Would you sleep with Pac-Man and what would be the benefits, B - Would you have an operation so that your anal opening was a a coin receptacle and C - Are all hump-backed people possessed with a fantastic libido and and a see-thru testicular sac?

Charlie: "A)  No. B)  I am a coin receptacle, so give me all your money. C) I've always wanted to shag a dwarf. Especially Bridget The Midget."

Andy: "I was always shit at computer games. As for the last two, I've had both procedures done for several years. No biggie." 

Stu: "Moon Cresta!!? Fuck me. That was a game, huh? All those three games were in an old amusement arcade by Dagenham East station back in 1981. Frequented by the Dagenham Delta Skins, this place has books worth of stories! Some naughty shit happened there. I was only 13! "

Pumpy: "I haven't the foggyest idea what any of that means at all what so ever. Which brings me to techbloodynology. Anyone that knows me will tell you just how much I hate it. I don't like it and it definitely does NOT like me! From my phone to the tv, they are all against me. No, but really me and technology are just not meant to be, so I have as little to do with it as HUMANLY because that's what I am. Possible. In my opinion divisions have been made by the haves and the have nots. those who HAVE to a greater or lesser degree sucked up and the HAVE NOTS..who ain't"

5.  Your greatest memories to date as a musician and a man of the world.  Also your greatest failures please - we gotta have balance?

Stu: "Greatest memory? Well it's probably as a 'Producer' (even a  'Dad') rather than 'musician'. Walking into Tower records in Piccadilly (London) with my daughter around 1996, and she looks up and says 'Dad, there's your video up there next to the Spice Girls!" And low and behold, there was an impressive 'display' right in the central window area of the shop and Oi! The Video pt 2 with One Way System's Tommy Couch on the front, was stacked up next to a pile of newly released Spice Girls videos, over looking Eros. That was a bit special. No mobile phones to capture the moment back then! As a Man? Kids being born, goes without saying. Pretty much anything (everything!) from the last 5-10 years is a good memory for me now. Failures? Oh, there's so many to choose from!! 25 years of alcoholism has given me plenty of bad times and nightmares to choose from, but I don't dwell on the past, just learn from it and move on."

Andy: "Going out of London and up north is always a good buzz. The crowds are great. In London once, we cleared a fairly full room with the first song! It was a chicken-in-basket crowd though and I'm very proud of that moment. Another gig, out of London,we started playing to no-one at all! By the end of the set they were all in and asking for an encore. We just played the beginning of the set again cos we didn't have any more songs back then. It can go either way!"

Charlie: "Lewisham Odeon 1979 seeing Siouxsie and The Banshees (original line up), The Cure and Spizz Energi.  The Albany Empire, Deptford 1979 singing with Max Splodge.  The Marquee, Wardour Street 1980, singing with The Saints.  The Garage, Highbury and Islington 2000 singing with Dee Dee Ramone.  Working with Pat Collier at his studio at Perry Vale to release our  "Rip Your Face Off"  album. I'm single, I've never been married, I've got no nightmare kids hassling me, I've never had the displeasure of being a father and I'm STILL playing music I enjoy, in a band I enjoy playing with. And this is despite certain people trying to stop me so I haven't failed at all. Exactly."

6.  The internet age - thoughts on what it is doing for music and the distractions and attractions found therein?

Andy: "The good and bad is more exposure. You can reach literally millions of people, buy there's millions of people doing the same. Attention span is now at minimal on Internet /social media.".

Stu: "Be careful what you wish for. I loved the idea of the internet. For spread of information, and for showing creativity to the world. But like everything, there's a downside. Whilst all Men might be born equal, their intellect is not, and giving everyone an equal voice and platform to spout that voice is changing the world beyond recognition. The Pro's are still mightily outweighing the Con's though. I don't think there would be an Underclass UK without the internet. From when I picked things up again around 2006ish to when the first album was recorded, it was only ever a studio project and I had no plans to play live. MySpace changed the world. That put me in touch with what became the first live line up. And apart from working with Clem and a couple of drummers who I knew personally, we've found everybody via the Net! Even Andy who re-found us after 20 years!"

7.  The ethos of UUK and the best gigs to date please - and of course what made them so fine?

Stu: "There is no ethos really. It's a positive outlet for our daily frustrations. We loosely collect around the ethics that Punk Rock was based upon, and do to each other and others like what we would have done to ourself, and all that... The Intrepid Fox at Xmas 2015 was the first time we really nailed it live and thought, 'fuck, that was actually ok!' At the risk of sounding arrogant, it's more the case that we notice when we have a bad one now, more than a good one. You know, it's different for each of us, and sometimes someone will come off going 'that was fucking awful' when the rest are going 'that was great!!', but generally if we hit a certain level of energy, we're happy. We've been given some real tests over the last year. Going on after Heavy Drapes at Blank Gen festival 2016 and the Blue Carpet Band at the George Tavern not long after would have intimidated a lot of bands. But we went up, done our thing regardless and won over who ever was left - despite being a lot heavier, and less musically accessible than both said bands."

Andy: "Ethos? We're all Church of Latter Day Saints and we're just trying to spread the good word. One of my fave gigs was at the Veg Bar in Brixton. Tiny place, no stage, the crowd were shoulder to shoulder to us and all jumping about. Chaotic but fun. Mics and guitars getting knocked everywhere..."

Charlie: "The ethos I have explained earlier in question 3. I'm happy with most gigs we do. But gigs are better if we are happy with our individual sound as well as our collective sound. If we are happy then it comes across in our music and the way we play. Also if we get a positive response from the audience it all adds to the fun and well being of gigging."

8.  Clemence Planish now lives in the left sock of the greatest adventurer known to man, one HillTop 'O' Perineum.  The escapades he has witnessed is untold with the latest trek across Satsuma Land and the confrontation with the Ballooba Tribe being a real horrifying tale.  The question is this - where would you like to explore, where would you like to take your band and play and are the nether regions of Larry Grayson the only place were 88 carat gold can be found?

Stu: "I thought you cataloged the mushrooms, Dave, not ate them raw!!"

Andy: "America would be fun but I don't think they'll let me in. Larry Grayson was mined out years ago."

Charlie: "Anywhere that is worthy of having us. Oooooh! Shut that door!!"

9.  Tell us about the bands releases to date and what you have coming up in the near future please?

Stu: "This link will take you to our 5 albums to date:   We need to finish off the next album. I say finish off, we've only just started writing it. No time frame for completion on this, I'd imagine at least a year - unless someone stumps up the money for us to go record. The last album was actually paid for by Universal, via a 'creative fund' for employee's which we managed to exploit. Who's the last Punk band to have an album paid for by a major label? Hehehehe...  "

Andy: "I've only been involved in the last two (although first album had a few songs me and Stu wrote back in the 80's!). The last album had the real solid line up you see today. We like to get the songs in shape and in a good solid state before we start looking at recording new stuff - so not an album a year. But we're now starting to sniff around a few new songs so it's gonna all start up again soon. The creative bit, the arguing, the thrashing it out!"

Charlie: "When I joined the band, sorry, when I started teaching the boys how to play rock 'n' roll properly - in September 2015 - they had already released two albums:   'Kill The Poor'  and 'Not In My Name'. (Plus the debut album Gratuitous and the third album, Live & Loud!! - Ed.)  And since then we've released the Rip Your Face Off album. I love the album - although the bass should've have been bit louder but this was due to me not using my Peavey set up) and everyone I've played it to likes it. Well, we're in the process of writing new songs so it's looking really positive."

10.   What are your thoughts on straying from your sonic zone and offering up a few episodes of noise out of the ordinary - a full on skank number, a northern soul jaunt and perhaps a reggaefied indulgence - personally I think it is always good to stretch the sonic scrotum?

Andy: "I listen to all sorts, and play all sorts, but although we do change and evolve we still know what an Underclass UK song is. I come up with stuff at home I know would never be accepted! We are hard and loud and I doubt that's gonna change." 

Stu: "I'm at that stage, Dave, where I'm keen to experiment musically, but only in recording! And not as Underclass UK. You might find the odd skew on each record, with something a little out-there, we already mish mash a huge amount of influences - 70's punk, 80's punk, Oi!, 80's & 90's Rock and Metal, Post Punk, Pub Rock, Glam Rock... It's all in there. I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of bands over the years and have learned a little bit from them all - about what to do, and what not to do! I've just done a little side project from stuff which was rejected for Underclass UK. Either people didn't like the songs or we couldn't make them work as 'play live' songs. So I holed up over a few weekends and threw the kitchen sink at them:  "

Pumpy: "I love my Reggae. I think Charlie does too. Andy, I'm not sure, about but Stu would be a definite no. Quite fancy it myself though. Can't see us playing Northen soul. There again Charlie in a behive wig.? Now that would be another thing."

Stu: "Strangely enough, I'm hitting a point now where, lyrically at least, it's hard to find original subjects for songs. We've done 50 original songs and covered pretty much everything you can think of in there and when it comes to writing new songs I tend to find I'm going over old ground and don't want to repeat stuff we've already done in other songs - so the prolific song writing is hitting a bit of a wall. Lyrically at least."

Charlie: "I've always liked the idea of  punk-reggae bands like The Clash, The Ruts, ATV, SLF. And also punk-ska bands like Rancid. I also like the idea of using other instruments like saxophone, keyboards and harmonica etc etc. There's nothing wrong with wanting to diversify but of course, it must be a joint effort otherwise it might just not work."

11.  What is your local scene like and, further afield, what heroes and zeroes and fine bands have you encountered on your journey thus far?

Andy: "No local scene. Venues are fighting for their lives often. Many been shut. There's a few people like John Youens (South London Punk Collective) who are very proactive in getting bands together yo play. The occasional decent promoter like Andy Cavendish. I'm not really a joiner though so "scene" is not what I do. Seen some great bands. Loved Hexed, but don't see them much cos they're from poppers north. Down here, I'll turn out for the Proud City Fathers and they're a great bunch too."

Stu: "No local scene out East. Hasn't been for well over 10 years. Since Airbomb jacked it in I guess. The 90's kids came through a done a bit but have now all grown up and moved on. I ran a zine Control! and web site (Kontrol!) for years, and did countless live and record reviews, much like yourself Dave, trying to be brutally honest, but I had no idea what it took at actually go and play or put a product out. In hindsight I feel a bit of a harsh cunt. But at least I stopped people wasting their money on garbage - in the days before you could reject someones hard work after just 3 seconds of listening. That aside, London is awash with punk bands. From similar old dinosaurs like ourselves, to a newer breed of band, some of whom are making a splash for themselves. Despite not really being a fan of gigging I must say, it's nice to get out there on a bill of bands I've never heard of and get a first hand impression. I'm really like bands live, who's records I probably wouldn't play, bands who do something different than what I've seen a thousand times (literally!) before - and done better. "

Pumpy: "I've seen and heard some incredible bands this year far to many to mention and some of them slightly off the Punk norm, but still in my opinion with that certain something... From duo's to bands with 8 or 9 members in them. I feel compelled to mention a few though. I hasten to add that some of the bands are also close friends, but I can't help being surrounded with so much talent! So my shout out is in no particular order: The Priscillas, Slutdrop, Polly Pickpockets, The Healthy Junkies, Slow Faction. Stone Heros. I could go on but I ain't gonna bore ya. Needless to say there are some great bands out there that don't get upwards of 200 to 300 quid per gig, which IF we were all on that kind of wonga would make touring a lot more viable for a lot of us. Again thus unfortunately is where I have a problem, If you are a main band that commands, let's say a livable wage, then fine, I've no problem with that at all, but I ask, would it not be possible to pay these bigger bands decently but still leave a few crumbs for all the smaller bands that have put in just as much effort if not more sometimes to get to a gig at great personal expense most of the time, for the privilege of playing at a prestigious show just to be ignored by the promoter and get fuck all for their troubles? If the smaller bands went away feeling appreciated, I'm pretty sure that is not the case though I think we all know the feeling of when you think someone is taking the piss but you can't prove it. Those are the ones that I was referring to earlier. My local local scene is to be fair at best completely non existent. There are not many Punks that live near where I am some of the time. That means I have to travel at least 6-8miles into London depending on where I happen to be staying, having been technically homeless for almost 4 years, hence me always having to move around quite a bit. Or it's 30 miles in to Essex more precisely, Southend, where there seems to be a little scene emerging. Plus a few venues out that way that seem to be happy to have Punk and punk related events. And that has to be a good thing. The closing down of venues in London have reached disproportionate levels relative to the amount that there ever were. With yet apparently another extremely valued venue in Camden called the Unicorn now under threat. Hats off to everyone that bothers to bother these days coz I know it takes a fuck of a lot to get those gigs up and running. Fortunately there are a few good souls left that still do it for the love. Conversely there are a few that don't. Be careful out there. You have be aware of rules and regs that some promoters are imposing on bands. That doesn't sit well with me being an anarchist. But for the bands sake I have had to accept gigs with these terms. Gets my back up though coz that's close to sucking up on our behalf and blackmail on the part of the promoter. Not good at all!"

Charlie: "The South London Punk Collective has been responsible for creating a good scene, where like minded people can go and see their mate's band as well as other local bands. Hats off to John of  "Slow Faction". He's a lovely man and an absolute gentleman. As regards to heroes, I've had far too many encounters to mention. The majority of them being positive of course."

12.  And last but not least - throw your bands shit mate, smear the walls with reasons to be cheerful and reasons to support Underclass UK.

Andy: "We're no frills in-your- face very loud with good songs. We get up, we play them, we get off again. We don't mince about..."

Stu: "We're pretty understated as a band. We do what we do because we like it. And will continue as long as we're all happy doing what we do. Have a listen, try not to prejudge and you might be pleasantly surprised." 

Pumpy: "In the end if you can find a few people that are on the same page as you keep them close coz you pretty much can't trust anyone else these days. Good band mates are like gold dust, treat them as such, when you think you got it, go and get in people's faces if they tell you they aren't interested. In my experience over the years they are expecting you to suck up... Then that's up to you there is that fork in the road."

Charlie: "We've got some strong songs. We're exciting to watch. We're nice and loud but tuneful with it. People want to listen. We don't take ourselves too seriously. We enjoy what we do and we do it well. We're not just another noisy thrash band. We're not prima donnas. We've all got a sense of humour And last but not least, they now play rock 'n' roll the way I've taught them. Properly with heart and soul."